"What I've done is revert to type. I've gone back to my nature." It has taken 26 years, but Johnny Marr is finally ready to embrace his past. It is a legacy of immense weight: The five years he spent as guitarist and co-songwriter with The Smiths, the most influential and enduring British indie band of the 1980s, will forever remain the 49-year-old's signature, and Marr has spent the intervening years since the band's acrimonious demise deliberately "getting away from" the sound that defined both the group and an entire era.

Yet speaking from his Manchester office one crisp, early August morning, Marr is in an ebullient mood. So far, 2013 has been good to him: anointed NME magazine's Godlike Genius in January, he has spent the subsequent months promoting "The Messenger," his new solo album that finds Marr sounding comfortable in his own skin after coming to terms with his history.

"I think you need to do that as a person no matter where you are in your life or what your job is," he says. "You've got to be OK with your past, philosophically, and be OK with how your journey has unfolded. And in my case, growing up in public and spending my adult life in front of an audience and in the pages of the music press, you have to deal with that.